Making exits clear

I know this is another case of me making a rod for my own back by choosing not to use compass points for interior movements, but I've got a few locations where I'm struggling to make it clear to the player how they access the various exits.

In the game intro I explain that go [room name] is used for interior navigation, but sometimes I don't want to give the room name (when it's a closed door, for instance).

This means that when I write something like the following:

You're stood on the upper landing of the inn. The walls either side of you are no more than four-feet apart. At the end of the corridor the door lies open and your torch picks out items that tell you it's a bedroom. The only other door up here is the one you're stood by, which is closed.

I don't want to resort to cheesy and immersion-breaking links or messages that tell you how to access the two places, but how do I better get across to the player that open door is what they need to type to gain entry into the room they're stood by?

Or is this pretty obvious an it's just me thinking it might not be?

It should be pretty obvious. What if someone types 'go door'?

"You're already there!"?

That's good to hear. Thanks.

I think 'go door' will get 'You can't go that way' (or at least my custom alternative of 'There's nothing of interest that way.')

I could just add a non-direction to the room and then 'go door' will do the same as 'open door'.

Not sure if it is a quirk of the English language in your part of the UK, but in your example you have mixed present and past tense in the same sentence.

'You're stood on the upper landing'
'is the one you're stood by'

Both cases of stood should in fact be the present participle standing.
If you remove the contraction, it becomes you are stood which is incorrect.

So they become You're standing on the upper landing
and is the one you're standing by

No offence meant, but I just wanted to point this out before you publish.

"You're stood" is fine, just write in a consistent voice. (I'd go as far as "You're stood on the upper landing" is better than "You're standing on the upper landing", which I can't read without trying to find a tune it fits to.)

If you're not doing it already, I'd recommend implementing "go to room" as well as just "go room" - if you're worried about breaking immersion, having to translate natural thoughts into clunky VERB NOUN commands will do it.

My taste in exit-listing is unusual in that I just have my games automatically add a line like "Exits are east, south and up" at the end of all room descriptions, a technique I copied from the first good IF games I played (Graham Cluley's "Jacaranda Jim" and "Humbug".) I find this much clearer to play with, and once you realise it's an automatic thing it doesn't come across as a flaw in the writing, just a courtesy like printing the room name in the status bar. But your mileage may vary.

Thanks, both. As robinjohnson alludes to, R2T1, I think 'You're stood...' is probably a bit of UK colloquialism. I'd say that in this country it's every bit as present tense as 'standing.'

robinjohnson, I've never really played around with auto exits but I may just have to take a look because it does seem to be the best way to avoid any confusion. Problem is, though, because compass points feel wrong to me for interior locations, I use a lot of non-directional exits and I'm not sure how Quest handles these if you have auto exits enabled.

"go to [room name]" sounds like a good idea to include, but I'm not sure how I'd do it. When a non-directional exit is created, Quest auto generates the "go [room name]" command. There is a 'prefix' field on exits, so maybe it would be as simple as adding the "to" in there.

[edit] just had a quick run on my game and go to is accepted without me having to do anything :)

I think if you're all about immersion then writing this...

"You're stood on the upper landing" is completely wrong in terms of grammar because you're using the past tense of the word "stand" for something the character/player is currently doing. R2T1 is correct.

"You're standing on the upper landing" is the correct form as it is the correct tense.

You could also say...

"You're currently standing on the upper landing of so and so."
"You're now standing on the upper landing."

In my opinion. "Go Room" is perfectly fine. If that breaks someone's immersion then chances are they aren't enjoying your game, or the writing of the game. Most people want to write the short-hand version of words if they can. I would get annoyed if I had to write, "Go to Porch" every single time I wanted to move. And if you're going to be a perfectionist then you might as well write, "Go to the Porch" or "Go to the Bathroom" as well. Just stick with "Go Room" nobody's immersion will be broken.


Thanks, Anon.

The 'stood' debate could go on for ever. Yes, technically it's bad grammar, but in my neck of the woods its usage in this context is totally acceptable.

Anyway, too late now, it's out.

if it was: You'(v)e (you have) stood on the upper deck landing, it'd be correct, though still paste tense. You'(r)e (You are) standing, is correct grammer (american english grammer, anyways --- I have no knowledge of english english, aside of only a few words).

Unfortunately, we use past tense 99% of the time, and thus it sounds correct, and present tense sounds too strange/foreign and thus sounds incorrect, as we almost never use it, thus it's very unfamiliar to us and seems wrong.

(though... technically, in terms of science, everything is past tense, laughs. There's no such a thing as instantaneous speech/communication, as speech/communication takes time, and thus what you're talking about is indeed now in the past by the time you speak/communicate. The same is true with sight/vision as well, everything we see is in the past, there is no seeing of the present/current)

About that door...
I'm dutch and my English is just fair. Playing IF game means I basically use minimal commands to solve the puzzles.

If a door is closed, there's no visible room to go to. Any reference to a door means I have to open it some way first. Using commands like open door / go door / unlock door / push door indicate I want to go through that door. I'd appreciate the door to open on any of these commands, without having to Google Translate numerous commands first to get the puzzle solved.

I know, it takes some of the fun and perfection out of the game for the developer, but it keeps the game more accessible for non English players, I guess?

Or we could make it even easier and have the locked door object contain a verb like "open" or "unlock" that way the player doesn't have to struggle no matter what their language is! :D What do you think?


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